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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

No Reservations About Moving This Airline System to SOA

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Talk about legacy. Up until recently, both Lufthansa and United Airlines were using a 40-year old reservation system, written in Assembly language.

Esther Schnidler, writing in CIO, describes how the airline migrated its green-screen-based system, which couldn't integrate with other systems and services.

Migrating the system to SOA, which covers the product suite for reservations, inventory and passenger check-in, is equivalent to a "heart transplant," said Shama Patel, business program manager of the SOA effort for United and Lufthansa, called Horizon Project.

The key to the project's success is good governance, Patel said. Along with a governance board supported by both airlines, a "Guidance Coalition" which brings IT and business employees together to interact and work on project milestones together. United also created a job title of "business engagement manager" to act as a point of contact between the IT project and the division.

Eventually, Lufthansa and United plan to roll out a common platform that can also be used by other members of the Star Alliance. "The modernization project will impact 20,000 people in 350 locations in a three- to four-year time frame, and it will touch 20 company divisions."


In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more


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